Distinguishing between CAD and BIM

May 18, 2017

undefinedundefinedQ: What is the difference between computer aided drafting (CAD) and building information modelling (BIM)? 

A: The difference is huge! Building construction goes through various stages - from design to documentation to coordination. What matters is the fact that 'the earlier you change the less it costs.' CAD has revolutionised the way we document and produce drawings, which is a major way of communication between industry players, therefore resulting in faster coordination processes. On the other hand, the introduction of BIM has shifted the focus and efforts to the design stage. By doing so, it has helped not only in reaching unparalleled efficiency in the level of coordination, but also a considerably lesser time and effort consumed in the documentation process.

Q: The shift from CAD to BIM by professional architects and engineers is creating several challenges and opportunities for architectural engineering programmes. Can you elaborate?

A: While many locally within the UAE have already taken steps into BIM, the reality is that only a few are fully benefiting from it. The full adoption normally goes beyond the utilisation of various kinds of software to changing the working methodologies and the way of thinking. For instance, the adoption of the Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) process where the hierarchical shape of decision making is completely reversed to include a wider range of professionals and covers the entire project lifecycle. Affected parties, besides architects and engineers include contractors, clients, landscape and interior designers, facility managers and green building consultants, along with other specialist consultants. Next comes the cost of the transition – there is a need to invest heavily in training programmes and acquiring new software and hardware infrastructure.

Q: BIM is shaping the discipline of architecture, both in concept and practice, with the promise of streamlining the design and construction process. What has your experience been while working with BIM? How is it improving your work as an architect/BIM engineer?

A: When the decision was taken by the company to make the shift, I was an early adopter. I immediately recognised the rewards that I would gain by committing to the change. Working in bigger teams has gradually become the norm, substituting the solo-boring-mode of the traditional CAD environment. The project as a whole lifecycle is now a primary data for our design team, and with that increases the amount of decisions and responsibilities that a designer needs to take. The management believed in the change and gave great support, yet the process is still ongoing and the continuing success of the completed projects will be the final judge.

Q: What are the key benefits of the transition from CAD to BIM in the UAE?

A: Following many other countries, Dubai government has taken the lead and announced that the use of BIM will no longer be optional but a requirement by the Municipality for all industry professionals.
By implementing BIM, everyone in the construction industry is getting smarter as their decisions are better informed. Problems related to poor coordination and unforeseen clashes between various disciplines that were held responsible for holding the progress of many projects, are now being avoided at a much earlier stage, resulting in huge savings and enhancement in services.
Client satisfaction is at a record high as they now have an opportunity to take a thorough look at the final results to reflect on them and to be more involved in the design process.

Q: Looking at the future, how will architectural engineering develop? Do you expect an evolution of BIM?

A: Looking back at the BIM adoption cycle, both innovators and early adopters have been busy over the last decade in discovering every possible way to maximise the use of new technologies and enhancing its ability to deliver a final product. Nowadays, we are witnessing a huge transition towards the adoption of BIM among the majority of professionals within the field. Leaders therefore are shifting focus into the stabilising and standardising of the industry. Consequently, BIM standards will mature worldwide to organise the flow of information and the methods of collaboration between all concerned parties.


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